- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Omaha’s mayor says she will continue to use text messaging after City Attorney Paul Kratz issued a legal opinion stating text messages are not public record.

The Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1DMQXG6 ) reports Kratz gave the legal opinion in response to the newspaper’s request for city-related text messages to and from Mayor Jean Stothert and City Council members.

Kratz says the text messages are held by the wireless carriers the city officials have a contract with, and the carriers are not delegated authority to perform a government function.

The attorney cited a Nebraska Supreme Court opinion in a case involving the City of Kimball. In that case, the court ruled documents created by a private investigator on behalf of the mayor were a public record, but were covered by an exemption to the public records law.

Stothert says that she will be more cautious about her use of text message, but she will continue to use it.

“Will I stop texting? I won’t,” she said. “My feelings on it haven’t changed. We’ll be very cautious about what we do. I’ll still do it because it’s more convenient.”

Councilman Chris Jerram says he plans to use email more often so the message may be on record.

“I handle the vast majority of city business by city email and will continue to do so but believe both email and texts regarding city business should be considered public information,” council member Pete Festersen said. “It’s just a matter of time before public records laws and opinions catch up with technology, and they should.”


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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